MDC ministers under probe

SEVERAL Ministers from the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been placed under investigations over alleged wealth accumulation in what is perceived to be part of efforts by hardliners in ZANU-PF to boost President Robert Mugabe’s re-election bid in the forthcoming polls.\r\n

Highly-placed sources revealed this week that ZANU-PF was desperate to expose real or imagined  corrupt dealings by its governing partners to discredit them in the eyes of the voters in elections President Mugabe’s party wants held this year.

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ZANU-PF spin-doctors would soon be revealing the names of targeted MDC ministers in the media as part of a wider smear campaign. The State media recently claimed that Finance Minister Tendai Biti was under probe, with police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena, denying such an investigation of the MDC-T secretary general.

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Biti is being accused of transferring US$20 million from the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights into an FBC Bank account and then to Interfin Bank, in violation of the law.

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On Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance ran an advertisement admitting Treasury had been prejudiced of about US$17,4 million by Interfin which failed to release the money before its placement under a six-month curatorship last month. Treasury said the development has undermined the performance of the Zimbabwe Economic Trade Revival Facility jointly funded by the government and the African Export Import Bank.

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as well as the leader of the rival MDC formation, Welshman Ncube are also among those targeted by ZANU-PF.

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There are attempts to make a case against Ncube, who is the Minister of Industry and Commerce on grounds that he may have personally benefitted from the Essar deal. Those in ZANU-PF are alleged to suspect him after he shot down two Chinese firms they preferred to partner the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company and settled for the Indian firm without the involvement of the Mines and Mining Development Ministry headed by Obert Mpofu of ZANU-PF.

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Prime Minister Tsvangirai was a victim of another probe that centred on allegations that he had “double dipped” into State funds that were meant for the construction of his residence at a cost of more than US$1,5 million. While the premier denied the allegations, the case has since been referred to the Anti-Corruption Commission. 

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Energy and Power Development Minister, Elton Mangoma is also said to be among those targeted following previous court appearances on graft which collapsed.

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While MDC insiders have been quick to dismiss allegations against their ministers as trumped up charges meant to discredit them ahead of polls, there has been public concern over the perceived “sudden” opulence displayed by some of the MDC-T’s young ministers even though sources say it pales in comparison to the accumulation of their ZANU-PF counterparts.

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So far, MDC-T councillors countrywide have been implicated in corrupt dealings especially in the allocation of land in their respective municipalities as well as stripping councils of their assets.

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Giving credence to speculation the MDC ministers are targeted, writing in the State media on Saturday, Nathaniel Manheru, who iS thought to be privy to the goings-on in ZANU-PF, appeared to make reference to the probe.

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He said a list of offending MDC figures would be released in due course adding that the “noise” being made about diamond revenues was meant to camouflage looting by ZANU-PF’s rivals.

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He indicated that the revelations were linked to the coming polls.

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“Today the MDC has failed both the competence test and the integrity test. It wallows in countless scandals, its officials now numbering among the richest, especially by way of real estate. I shall have occasion to trace for the reader this property labyrinth traceable to MDC ministers who are hardly four years in their portfolios, on a paltry salary,” wrote Manheru.

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“Only then will it become plain that all the carping about Chiadzwa is but diversionary talk. The list is about ready. That is the beauty about an election season, is it not? No holds are barred.”

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But police spokesman, Bvudzijena said in a brief telephone interview that he was not aware of any probe targeting MDC ministers in the coalition government.

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“I am not aware of such a probe,” he said.

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Biti recently blamed the precarious state of government finances on lack of transparency in accounting for revenues from Chiadzwa diamond fields.

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The minister said only a trickle had been realised, forcing Treasury to revise downwards its US$4 billion budget.

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MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said his party was well aware of a plot by ZANU-PF to manufacture allegations against its leaders as a ploy to discredit and weaken them ahead of polls.

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“We know that ZANU-PF is trying to manufacture stories against our leaders and it’s nothing new. The fact of the matter is that our deployees in government — our ministers, our deputy ministers, our Prime Minister, our Deputy Prime Minister — have done very well to improve the lot of     the people of Zimbabwe,” said Mwonzora.

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MDC vice president, Edwin Mushoriwa, said the integrity of people his party had seconded to government was unquestionable, but claimed  there are some ZANU-PF ministers who were corrupt, without naming anyone. 

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Mushoriwa said the origins of some of the wealth the ZANU-PF ministers have is untraceable, adding that the MDC subscribed to the tenet of public officials declaring their assets in order to establish a paper trail where there are signs of obscene accumulation of wealth.

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“Some ZANU-PF ministers are the ones who have been mentioned now and then in relation to corruption. The integrity of our people in government is unquestionable. Our councillors have never been found on the wrong side when it comes to corruption. All our Members of Parliament were never mentioned in the looting of the Constituency Development Fund,” said Mushoriwa. -Fingaz